Next week my toddler will enter a world that will be quite foreign to her: school, or pre-school to be exact! Several questions have been running through my brain recently: ‘How do I prepare my little one for the new adventure she is about to venture on?’ ‘How do I give her the confidence she will need in the coming weeks?’ ‘How do I take the fear of something new and replace it with excitement of a fresh exploration to come?’ I believe that these are questions that all Moms deal with, especially when their first born flies from the coop for the very first time.
My main goal is to make sure my toddler’s ‘fear of the unknown’ does not disrupt her pre-school experience; I must therefore make the unknown known. I have read that giving out information is quite helpful in such cases. I have been talking about ‘going to school’ for quite a few weeks now, building the anticipation like I would do with a birthday or special holiday. I also have told my little one her teacher’s names and let her know the sequencing of events on days that she will be attending pre-school. Just as ‘Dora the Explorer,’ (a favorite of my daughter’s), takes out her map and sings out the three places they will adventure off too, I took out a mini map and sang to my daughter: “car, school, mommy-time…car, school, mommy time.” This explains the sequencing of events in a way that my daughter understands it; she knows that I am not leaving her, that mommy will be back shortly after school is over. She even sings the song herself sometimes. I also told my little one: “Mommy is driving you to school, but your teacher is going to unbuckle your seat-belt. We need to remember to thank your teacher for helping.” By letting my little girl know this ahead of time, she will not be caught off guard when the teacher assists her out of the car. By making these ‘unknown’ events a bit more constructed within my little one’s mind, I am making the unfamiliar a bit more familiar, and with toddlers every little bit counts!
I will also make the day it-self fun and memorable. My little one attends an afternoon program, so I am going to make her a special lunch: a heart shaped peanut-butter sandwich, a heart shaped cookie, and I also cut strawberries in the form of hearts as well. I do this to remind her that she has so many people who care for her, and she is going to meet a lot of new friends on the first day of school as well. I also let my daughter pick out a special outfit at the store, so she will feel extra special on her first day; this also gives her a sense of control. And finally, I intend to be extremely calm, especially if any tantrums should arise on that first day of school, in hopes that my feelings of Zen will spread to my toddler as well.